To the editor:
On Apr. 12, 2021, the Gamecock editorial board wrote, regarding the current sexual harassment claims at USC, that, “Tenure has been used as a system of protecting abusers and preventing them from facing consequences.”
As officers of the USC chapter of the American Association of University Professors, we want to make the following clear: The purpose of tenure is not to protect abusers or abusive behavior of any kind. Tenured faculty can be dismissed for cause.
Tenure protects academic freedom — the right of faculty members to speak freely on controversial subjects in their research and teaching. Invoking tenure to shield abusers damages the entire university community, and it ultimately undermines academic freedom.
As the editorial points out, the faculty manual contains provisions for the termination of faculty members for cause. While the system might require revision, its aim is not to use tenure as a means to protect the guilty.
We support President Bob Caslen's call to ensure “a safe, inclusive and diverse community at UofSC — a community in which all members are supported, valued and celebrated.” And we agree with The Daily Gamecock: It’s time to act on this promise.
Christian K. Anderson
Sabra S. Custer
Carol E. Harrison
Officers of the UofSC AAUP Chapter